Mise en Place
The French term “mise en place” translates as “implementation” and is commonly used in a professional kitchen to describe the state of getting prepared for service. Mise en place is a series of steps and stages that can be quite complex and require many hours often longer than the actual service time. Mise en place encompasses food preparation including cutting vegetables, butchering meats, fish and poultry, and pre-cooking items to save time. Mise en place also includes the setup of a station, the assembly of tools and small wares, and the clean up of the station once service is complete. Mise en place requires good organization habits to be in a proper state of readiness.
Knife skills are the single most important and the most fundamental skill a chef must acquire. Knife skills take repetition and practice to build speed and productivity. Good knife skills require an organized work station, properly sharpened knives, and disciplined technique.
Handling the Knife
The best way to hold a chef knife is to grip the heel of the blade with your thumb and forefinger and wrap the remaining three fingers around the handle.
Gripping the Knife
A good grip will give you better control increasing cutting accuracy and speed, while preventing slippage and lessening the chances of accidents.
The Guide Hand
The opposite hand is used for holding and guiding the food to be processed
Always curl the fingertips of the opposite hand into a claw shape, never lay them flat
Use the second joint of the opposite fingers as a guide for the knife blade, this will help control the thickness of the cut
Slide the blade across the product
A sharp edge will allow the knife to glide through the object with minimal applied pressure.
Uniformity & Consistency
Consistency in shape and size is important for two reasons
A uniform size will give the dish a better appearance
Uniformity in size means the product will cook evenly
Rocking, Gliding & Chopping
Some cutting methods will require different motions for achieving the desired outcome.
- A forceful downward thrust when cutting through a block of cheese or to halve a vegetable
- A gliding motion when sliced or dicing
- A rocking motion when mincing herbs
- A chopping motion when coarse chopped vegetables are desired